Winter Olympics Cocktail: Homage to Team USA’s ‘Flying Tomato’


The Winter Olympics opens Friday in Beijing, spawning a wintry sequel to China’s stunning 2008 summer games. The 2022 U.S. Olympic Team features 92 returning  athletes, including 4 five-time Olympians. Perhaps the most visible member, thanks to his snowboarding acrobatics and flaming red hair, is Shaun White. Nicknamed the “Flying Tomato,” White is a three-time gold medalist in half-pipe snowboarding, holds the world record for the gold medals by any snowboarder — and just announced that after these games he will retire from all professional competition.

The events are televised prime time in the U.S.A. on a delay, due to the 13-hour time difference between Washington and China. Fans who seek a live stream will have to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to catch the action.  

If you chose to cheer on Team USA in real time with a festive cocktail, what are your best options for a pre-dawn tipple with a patriotic flair? The bloody Mary has been a long-established morning cocktail for years… part wake-up call… part breakfast… part hangover cure. 

Despite numerous tales of its origins, the bloody Mary is regarded as an American classic. One legend says it was invented at New York’s 21 club in the 1930’s. Another story claims it originated earlier in Paris, but at a watering hole called Harry’s “New York” bar. A third anecdote traces it to the famed Nat King Cole bar at Manhattan’s St. Regis Hotel. 

A bloody Mary is a combination of vodka, tomato juice, lemon with various spices. The most common additions include  salt, pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire, olives, horseradish and celery. Regional versions abound, such as using Old Bay seasoning in Maryland. 

In honor of America’s favorite sporty “tomato” and with a nod to the host country of the XXIV Winter Games, I propose a bloody Mary toast with a Chinese nuance. 

Let’s start with an American-made vodka. Popular options include Skyy, Square One or Tito’s. Hangar One organic vodka hails from White’s home-state of California. Their “Fog Point” vodka is distilled using water captured from the famously thick fogs of San Francisco Bay. You can’t get any more West Coast hipster than that! 

For tomato juice, reach for the gold. Red Gold tomato juice is sustainably produced on a family-owned farm in the U.S.A. Perfect to celebrate a USA gold medal. 

Now to build our bridge to China. The third key ingredient in a bloody Mary is lemon. Favored by chefs, Meyer lemons are actually native to China. A hybrid of a citron and mandarin, they were introduced to the United States in 1908 when Frank Nicholas Meyer from the US Department of Agriculture collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China.  

The  extra flavorings  are the way to create a distinct Chinese twist. Instead of mild black pepper,  go with some freshly ground  Szechuan peppercorns… but be careful… they pack a powerful punch! To forge the Umami taste that salt and Worcester bring, substitute soy sauce and  oyster sauce. A pinch of Chinese five- spice powder adds an exotic edge. To stir it up, use a stick of leafy Chinese celery for a pretty garnish. 

If you prefer to do the typical sports and beer route during the Winter Games you could choose your favorite domestic beer or go with a Chinese brew like Tsingtao or Harbin. A lucky option to mark the Chinese New Year which kicked off on February 1 is a Singapore-made Tiger beer to celebrate the Year of the Tiger… and scores of  medals for the U.S.A. 

Flying Tomato Bloody Mary 

  •  2 oz. vodka 
  • 4 oz. Red Gold tomato juice 
  • Juice from ½ Meyer Lemon
    2 dashes soy sauce 
  • 2 dashes oyster sauce 
  • Pinch of fresh ground Szechuan pepper and Chinese five-spice powder 
  • One stalk Chinese celery (for garnish). 

Add ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and  into a class. Garnish with celery. 

 

 

 

  

 

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